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Plenty To See, Do And Eat At This Year's Utah Arts Festival

Photo of downtown Salt Lake City during a past year's arts festival
KUER file

The Utah Arts Festival, one of the largest annual festivals in the state, begins Thursday in Salt Lake City.

This year there are 174 visual artists, 55 of which are from Utah. There are performances of live music, dance, poetry and comedy, 100 of them, on six different stages. There are 61 film screenings, 18 food vendors, 1,000 volunteers and an estimated 80,000 visitors.

All of this will take place over the next few days on two full city blocks in downtown Salt Lake.

It’s the Arts Festival’s 41st year. Matt Jacobson is the Artist Marketplace Coordinator. He started as an Arts Fest volunteer 31 years ago, when the festival was much smaller.

“As we’ve grown, we’ve wanted to keep it still a focus on local artists for our community, but also (provide) an opportunity for people that may not get a chance to travel out of Utah to see artists from all over the country,” Jacobson says.

He says the festival organizers bring in artists representing a wide variety of art for people to browse.

“From 2D mixed, flat mediums, painting, to ceramics, glass, wood,” he says. “Pretty much the gamut.”

There are plenty of activities to engage in, too. A kid’s art yard provides activities—and supervision–for children. In the Urban Arts corner, graffiti artists will paint a 1970 Volkswagen van and visitors can paint one small piece of a giant, secret mural, says Mason Fetzer, the Urban Art Coordinator.

“You get that one little square and you have to copy it onto a bigger square, not knowing what it is,” Fetzer says. “When it’s all done, it all kind of puzzle fits together back into an image.”

The festival runs until Sunday evening. Tickets range in price and only cash is accepted at the door. 

Nicole Nixon holds a Communication degree from the University of Utah. She has worked on and off in the KUER Newsroom since 2013, when she first joined KUER as an intern. Nicole is a Utah native. Besides public radio, she is also passionate about beautiful landscapes and breakfast burritos.
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